Our annual launch of Brain Injury Awareness Week was held on Monday the 16th of August 2021 in the Ian McLachlan Room at the Adelaide Oval. Raising awareness in society is crucial for reducing the unnecessary barriers and misconceptions that people living with brain injury face every day.
The launch is also a valuable opportunity to build awareness and bring the ABI community together to celebrate the achievements of people living with ABI. After having to restrict the numbers of in-person attendees the previous year due to COVID, it was excellent to be able to welcome over 250 people through the doors, as well as have over 200 more view the live-stream online.
This year’s launch was once again hosted by the ABC’s Emma Rebellato, and it was packed with informative and inspiring speakers. We heard from Amber Halliday, a three-time world champion rower who later turned her talents to professional cycling before suffering a severe TBI in a support race for the 2011 Tour Down Under. In an incredibly uplifting speech, Amber shared with us how she applied her sporting discipline and an attitude of hope and determination to adjust to life with a brain injury.
Gavin Williams is Professor of Physiotherapy Rehabilitation, a joint position appointed by Epworth Healthcare and The University of Melbourne. Since he began working at the Epworth Hospital 25 years ago, he has developed a program to teach advanced gait and running skills to people with brain injuries. He has since become a world leader in the assessment, classification and treatment of mobility limitations following TBI, and it was wonderful to hear how he is helping so many people to walk and run again and, by doing so, increase their independence and quality of life.
Dr Jenna Ziebell of the University of Tasmania took us through the excellent free online course “Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury” offered by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre”, which is playing a useful role in building awareness of TBI. Following this, it was time for personal stories of people and families with lived experience of brain injury.
Brian Matthews has severe expressive aphasia due to a stroke three years prior and shared his experiences and insights via an impactful video that was pre-recorded. Next, we had Sue Cocking and her husband Theo, followed by David Lee and his wife Sunny, interviewed by Emma onstage. These stories showed the reality and challenges of life after brain injury from both the individual and partner perspective, as well as being great examples of the incredible progress that can be achieved.
Finally, Lifetime Support Authority Chief Executive Rick Howe presented the Brain Injury SA Embrace Life After Brain Injury Award. This was awarded to June Wright, for her exceptional dedication in working towards and achieving her goals for some 30 years following her brain injury. Her story demonstrated the power of everybody working together, including her parents, support team and therapists all pulling in the same direction to provide support.
As always, we are grateful to our Presenting Partner the Lifetime Support Authority and Gold Sponsor DBH Lawyers for helping us deliver what was a very enjoyable and successful event.